In a year of technological firsts, when future Internet giants Yahoo! and eBay were founded and the DVD format was first announced, the PlayStation games console was unleashed on an expectant European public on 29 September.
PlayStation launched with a mix of the finest Japanese titles and a selection of new, Western-developed games and, by Christmas, a staggering 350,000 consoles were in European homes.
Notable releases: Namco’s Tekken, Ridge Racer and Air Combat, Destruction Derby, Krazy Ivan and WipEout from Psygnosis.
Japanese publisher Capcom unleashed a zombie-packed adventure on PlayStation in the form of Resident Evil; this cinematic twist on the action adventure genre won the hearts of millions of gamers and spawned a lucrative series.
And a certain lady by the name of Lara Croft became a digital pin-up for millions teenage boys…
Notable releases: Tomb Raider, Formula 1, Street Fighter Alpha and Sony Computer Entertainment Europe’s Total NBA ’96.
SCEE introduced the immensely popular Platinum range of titles, and Square – later to become Square Enix – released Final Fantasy VII, while Scottish developers DMA Design combined ingenious gameplay with black humour for the groundbreaking Grand Theft Auto.
Notable releases: Soul Blade, Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, Time Crisis (with G-Con 45 controller).
Whilst the launch of Google introduced a new way to use the Internet, PlayStation hardware production neared a gargantuan 50 million units.
Fuelling this rise was a host of key software releases, not least the debut outing of Gran Turismo. Billed as The Real Driving Simulator, Polyphony Digital’s masterpiece signalled the birth of the ultimate racing franchise.
Notable releases: Colin McRae Rally, Naughty Dog’s Crash Bandicoot: Warped, MediEvil, X-men vs Street Fighter.
New on the games front, the Metal Gear Solid series was born, Ape Escape introduced brand new gameplay experiences with the iconic DUALSHOCK controller, and Silent Hill provided an atmospheric and equally terrifying alternative to the more action-orientated zombie thrills of other survival horror titles.
Notable releases: Driver, Medal of Honor, Syphon Filter, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, Final Fantasy VIII, ISS Pro Evolution, Dino Crisis.
“Bug, what bug?” was the cry as the Y2K bug failed to dampen celebrations in the last year of the second millennium. With technology talk all the rage, the tie-up between America Online and Time Warner signalled the then largest ever corporate merger, and SCEE introduced not one, but two new consoles.
Alongside the much anticipated PlayStation 2, which was accompanied by the iconic The Third Place advertising campaign directed by David Lynch, the compact PS one crammed the inner workings of the original PlayStation into a sleek and attractive new design.
Notable releases: Tecmo’s Dead or Alive 2, Fear Effect, Midnight Club, Resident Evil 3: Nemesis, Smuggler’s Run, Spider-Man, Vagrant Story.
Whilst the dreams of swots and journalists were answered with the launch of Wikipedia in the first month of the new millennium, later in the year shipments of PlayStation 2 hit 20 million units worldwide on the strength of a string of key software titles.
At the start of the year, SCEA announced that it had acquired Crash Bandicoot creators Naughty Dog to create exclusive content for PlayStation 2. By the end of 2001, the company’s mysterious Project X became Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy, and so an enduring and much loved partnership was born.
Notable releases: SSX Tricky, World Rally Championship, Burnout, Devil May Cry.
It was a case of new year, new currency across Europe as Euro coins and notes were released onto the market; in a similar vein, the winds of change swept through PlayStation as strong original titles were released alongside a deluge of fantastic sequels.
Kingdom Hearts combined the role-playing game knowledge of Square Enix with Disney’s memorable characters, Frequency took rhythm action into a whole new direction, and ICO was a beautifully crafted tale of a young boy trying to lead a fragile girl to safety in a perilous castle.
Notable releases: Final Fantasy X, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, Ratchet & Clank, TimeSplitters 2.
As well as the launch of the EyeToy USB Camera which spawned a new generation of social gaming experiences, online gaming on PS2 arrived in 2003, with the introduction the Network Adaptor for PlayStation 2.
Thanks to this nifty piece of kit and a Network Access Disc, you could now play a host of compatible titles online against players across the continent, the most popular of the initial network enabled line-up undoubtedly being Zipper Interactive’s SOCOM: US Navy SEALs.
Notable releases: Ape Escape 2, Beyond Good and Evil, Need for Speed: Underground, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, Sly Raccoon, Soul Calibur II, EyeToy: Play, Everquest Online Adventures.
Overshadowing the launch of a curious website called Facebook, one of the biggest eye-openers of the year was the official unveiling of PSP (PlayStation Portable) at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) in Los Angeles.
Bedroom crooners received an unexpected boost with the release of SingStar on PlayStation 2. The innovative title from SCEE London Studio came with a pair of microphones and EyeToy USB camera compatibility to create a unique singing experience that was an instant hit.
Notable releases: The Getaway: Black Monday, Killzone, Mashed, Onimusha 3, Sega SuperStars, Star Wars Battlefront.
Ten years on from the release of the original PlayStation in Europe, PSP launched to a rapturous reception in October, PlayStation 3 was unveiled to a stunned audience of press, developers and other important industry figures at E3, and Kratos, the self-styled God of War, stormed onto PlayStation 2.
Notable releases: Battlefield 2: Modern Combat, Buzz! The Music Quiz, Everybody’s Golf, Gran Turismo 4, Lumines, Peter Jackson’s King Kong.
Shadow of the Colossus, Black and Tomb Raider Legend joined the ever expanding PS2 library, Guitar Hero introduced a new way to have fun with your friends thanks to the revolutionary guitar peripheral, and, on PSP, much loved series such as The Sims, Medal of Honor, Splinter Cell, Gitaroo Man and Killzone all appeared on the system for the first time.
Notable releases: Canis Canem Edit, The Godfather: The Game, Okami, Tokobot, We Love Katamari.
In a year of new arrivals, Bulgaria and Romania officially joined the European Union, Apple announced the iPhone, and, on 23 March, European gamers got their hands on PlayStation 3, the world’s most powerful games system.
PS3 launched with an eclectic array of titles, from the critically acclaimed Resistance: Fall of Man to the epic Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, along with a host of movies available on Blu-ray Disc. It was a huge year for its younger sibling too as, on 5 September, PSP Slim & Lite was launched in Europe.
Online, PlayStation Network revolutionised gaming for PS3 and PSP owners, and opened the door to PlayStation Store, which soon became home to hundreds of downloadable games, demos and trailers.
Notable releases: MotorStorm, Virtua Fighter 5, Heavenly Sword, Folklore, Assassin’s Creed, Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune,.
With the demise of the HD DVD format, Blu-ray Disc became the only disc format able to support High Definition games and movies and PS3 went from strength to strength.
A new hero arrived on PS3 in the form of the adorable Sackboy from LittleBigPlanet and, on PSP, Kratos burst onto the handheld scene in his bloody rampage of revenge, God of War: Chains of Olympus.
Notable releases: Devil May Cry 4, LEGO Batman: The Video Game, BioShock, LocoRoco 2, Yakuza 2.
A slimmer, stylish PS3 system and the equally svelte PSPgo system, with its 16GB internal hard drive, made their debuts in 2009. For fans of downloadable content, PlayStation Network Cards were introduced in-store for consumers to get online and buy great content from PlayStation Store.
Blockbuster sequels arrived on PS3 in the form of Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, alongside format debuts for two popular PlayStation series in Killzone 2 and Ratchet & Clank: A Crack in Time, and new titles EyePet and inFamous.
Notable releases: Resistance Retribution, Invizimals, Batman Arkham Asylum, SingStar Take That.
While an Icelandic volcano’s giant ash cloud disrupted air traffic across much of Europe, Heavy Rain set a new benchmark for immersive and emotional storytelling on PS3; yet the biggest surprises were still to come on the system in the form of PlayStation Move and stereoscopic 3D gaming.
The PS Move motion controller heralded a new way for gamers to have fun in the home, whilst the advent of 3D alongside 3D televisions cemented the credentials of PlayStation as the home of innovation for videogames.
Notable releases: MAG, God of War III, ModNation Racers, Red Dead Redemption, Tiger Woods PGA Tour 11, EA SPORTS FIFA 11.
In an incredible 15 years, PlayStation has pioneered new experiences for the whole family – here’s to the next 15 years…